Oh, yes, my first horse riding session after a nine-month pregnancy break felt like heaven. The joy of being back in the saddle easily overcame my physical weakness. I stopped riding last September, as soon as I found out I was pregnant; it was a hard decision as I have a young horse who needs plenty of work to prepare for future show jumping.
In the back of my mind, I have wanted to get back to the show life since I arrived in Australia. However, life often has other ideas and can lead us down strange pathways and I ended up doing many things, other than riding, for the first few years. I actually bought my new competition jacket just a month before the ”stick turned blue”.
During the initial excitement of expecting our second baby and the best addition to our family, those feelings directly clashed with the thought that I would be out of the saddle for almost a year. Those feelings are hard to explain to an outsider, because to a non-horse person, simply giving up riding must seem a pretty obvious decision. But for me it was much more difficult and I am pretty certain every women rider who has been in the same situation will share those emotions.
In the end, even after hearing stories of women riding until 41 weeks and then delivering babies in the back of the barn without an epidural, I decided on the only sensible course, for me at least, and made the pregnancy my number one priority.
The risks involved in continuing to ride were just too great. My doctor advised that impact sports are certainly not recommended, and there is an added risk of prolonged intense exercise reducing blood supply to the placenta. She also reminded me that my joints would be lax and it would be easier to break a bone while being unable to take almost any medication. In my mind the decision was made: it was time to stop. I also did some research of my own and found this interesting article (http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-community/should-you-ride-while-pregnant.aspx) which also helped me to see that the best decision was to hang up my boots and find the best rider I could to take over my job with my horse, Cognac.
Throughout the pregnancy I made a lot of effort to be around horses and to continue with my coaching. This all helped to overcome the frustration of not being able to ride. I found a great deal of joy and satisfaction assisting other riders to improve their riding and better connect with their horses. When my students reach a goal I felt as happy as if I had reached that goal myself. It is actually an extraordinary feeling.
Now, six weeks after Mia was born by natural birth, it looks as though everything that was done to have this precious baby was well worth it. I have my obstetrician’s approval to start exercising and I also feel pretty good and ready to start training again. I must say, though, that my core “is gone” and my muscles are weak for sport and my hips feels awkward. Well, nothing unusual after delivering a baby.
Initially, my intention was to improve my core and stamina by exercising before getting back in the saddle. However, my excitement and anticipation was too much and I decided to go ahead and start straight riding. I just began on more mature horses than mine, as they require less physical effort. The plan is to allow six to eight weeks for my body to slowly build up muscles and get back to the fitness required for jumping (at least small jumps). On my first day, I rode for half-an-hour doing basic flatwork. Cantering felt good in a three-point seat but felt tiring trying to maintain a two-seat position. Muscles felt really good after the riding, only my hip felt a bit stiff.
I hope my muscles’ memory works well and returns to shape soon so I can start doing some rounds and shows after mid-year.
I will keep posting over the next few months and let you know how post-pregnancy riding is progressing while uploading photos and videos on Instagram.
Stay in touch!